Impactful Employee Recognition Ideas & Sample Recognition Letter

3 minutes • May 4, 2020Employee EngagementCulture
Impactful Employee Recognition Ideas & Sample Recognition Letter

When employees know how appreciated they are for their work, they’re more likely to be productive and committed members of the company. Without regular recognition, they may start to feel expendable and look for opportunities elsewhere.

Luckily, letting your employees know how much you appreciate them isn’t complicated. From offering small bonuses to writing a formal letter detailing your gratitude, there are several ways to incorporate employee recognition in the workplace.

This guide covers what employee engagement is and how it’s impacted by employee recognition, as well as a few ideas to get you started. Read on or jump ahead to a section:

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is sometimes associated with employee satisfaction. While it’s true that engaged employees are more satisfied, satisfaction is an outcome while engagement is a state of being. Employee engagement includes:

  • Commitment – The company’s mission and vision resonates with employees

  • Motivation – Employees are compelled to give their absolute best effort on any task or project

  • Trust – Employees have faith in how the organization is run, in their leadership, and in each other; managers and leaders trust their people

  • Accountability – They have no problem giving their full attention to a task and don’t need to be micromanaged

What is Employee Engagement

How Employee Recognition Increases Engagement

It’s not a stretch to say that if a person doesn’t feel valued for their contributions, they’re less likely to work as hard in the future. Feeling unseen or unappreciated by your supervisor or peers doesn’t exactly inspire your best effort.

We all want to be appreciated, so hearing “thank you” or being recognized goes a long way.

Most importantly, receiving recognition reminds employees that they’re valued as individuals and that they aren’t just some cog in a machine. Extending dignity, autonomy, and recognition to your people not only fosters a more engaged team, but also creates a more enjoyable place for everyone to work.

5 Easy Employee Recognition Ideas

Recognizing your employee’s efforts doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Here are five ways you can start praising your team right now.


Recognize work that goes above and beyond with a small, on-the-spot bonus. This could be cash or a gift card to an employee’s favorite restaurant or coffee shop.

Bonusly is an employee recognition tool that makes it easy to give small bonuses to staff or give them points to reward each other as peer-to-peer recognition.

Company-sponsored outings are another way to give rewards. Take the team out for coffee or lunch and use the time to highlight individual wins.

Verbal Praise

Don’t underestimate the power of giving someone a sincere “great job.” Verbal praise gives immediate affirmation and can range from broad compliments to something more specific, like:

This is brilliant, thank you.

Great work this week.

Thank you so much for this agenda—it’s even more than I was hoping for.

You’ve taken a huge weight off my shoulders.

Awesome suggestion. I never would’ve thought of it that way.

Whatever you say, be authentic to be meaningful, the same way you’d want someone to communicate with you.

Congratulate your team with real-time employee recognition, get started for free

Celebrate Holidays and Milestones

Taking time to honor birthdays, work anniversaries, career achievements, and other milestones doubles as compelling employee recognition. Celebrating who your employees are shows how much you value them as individuals, not just as workers.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

A lightweight peer-to-peer recognition program not only takes the onus off managers to always deliver recognition but often carries more weight than manager-led recognition on its own. A simple peer recognition program helps build a culture of appreciation.

Pingboard, an org chart creator, comes equipped with a peer-to-peer recognition tool called Applause. Applause makes it easy for colleagues to write praise about each other and share it with the company.

Recognize your teammates for a job well done

There are also plenty of ways to take peer-to-peer recognition offline, like with:

  • Handwritten notes – Give employees a stack of stationery to use for writing compliments to their colleagues

  • Message board – Hang a board in a shared space where employees can leave positive messages for each other

  • Meeting shout-outs – Reserve the first five minutes of any meeting for employees who want to give a shoutout to their coworkers

Employee Recognition Letter [Template]

A formal or semi-formal letter is a great way to recognize employees at the end of a big project, quarter, or when they continually exceed your expectations.

Download Employee Recognition Letter
Employee Recognition Letter Template

A letter packs a punch because it shows that you took the time to reflect on their efforts and compose a meaningful message. You can also use it to highlight how an employee can have future involvement with the company.

Need some ideas on how to write your letter? Download this template to get started. It includes suggestions for how to structure each paragraph and an example letter from a manager.

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